What Can A Team Leader Do When Resiliency Is Low?

Written by on September 13, 2014

Straighten the curves of a paperclip and then bend it. Do this over and over. Eventually, the clip snaps. When teams are under pressure, when they deal with stress, change, challenge, and adversity, they must bend. Those that cannot recoup, recover, and adapt, will break. Fortunately, teams have more tensile strength than paperclips! We can develop our resiliency and better equip ourselves to handle negativity with hope.

Some steps leaders can take to strengthen a team’s resiliency:


  • During times of change or adversity, people look to their leaders for guidance, assistance, direction – and the answers. When I work with individuals around developing confidence, I call this their “place of knowing.” What’s so interesting is that even when I work with high-level leaders and ask them to immediately spill out 20 key things that make them so great, they can have difficulty, or feel the negative push of ‘being arrogant or bragging’. Many people in these leadership positions still do not hold or exude a strong level of knowing about what drives their own values and performance.

  • To help their teams cope with tough situations, leaders need to exude their place of knowing and have a solid understanding of how they can support their people. Radiating that sense of confidence, sharing it, walking the walk and talking the talk: this, more than any words, can help develop team resiliency. They need someone who models for them the ability to cope, the ability to get through, and the ability to keep moving and utilize forward thinking.

Empowering Language:

  • Using positive feedback and encouraging language with teams helps bolster them, draw them along, and support them. Perhaps they will reengage or buy back in as opposed to becoming emotionally triggered or giving up.

Exuding compassion and credibility:

  • Speaking in a very open, calm manner can help generate hope and encourage people to hang in. During times of challenge and change, the key is to just be real with people. Meet them at their level, and go to that place of empathy and compassion to really understand how those team members are feeling and thinking. What emotions are driving them?

Emphasizing self-care:

  • Perhaps you are going through the tumult of a merger, a downsizing, an uncertain economy, or the stress of everyday life. Showing your team that you can cope with this and maintain your health and wellbeing demonstrates that it can be done, and that they, too, can take care of themselves. Encourage care and nurturing for self, and look out for each other on the team.

A piece in the Harvard Business Review recounts one leader who used self-care to prepare for stressful meetings. “I would not only do Pilates, but I would also run eight miles. I would get myself totally pumped so I could be as energetic and authentic as possible.” Wonderful self-care and role-modeling for her team!

Remember that resiliency is not a fixed characteristic. We can all take steps to develop team resiliency. We can take steps to ensure that we bend but do not break.